Reidblog [The Reid Report blog]

Think at your own risk.
Wednesday, October 22, 2008
The Barbie Chronicles
So ... let me get this straight ... Joe the "plumber" has $250,000 lying around to buy a plumbing business worth $150,000 less than that, even though he only makes $40,000 a year ... and Sarah the Hockey Mom gets paid by Alaska voters to stay at home, lets her constituents pick up the tab for her kids' travel, and has a $150,000 clothing allowance? Boy, those small town values sure are expensive... either that or all those poor GOPer shlubs slumming it out in the heartland are some kind of suckers... (hmm... given the new valuation of small town America, I wonder how much the Sarah Palin and Joe the Plumber Halloween costumes cost? I'm sure I can't afford them...)

Yes, I did listen to the John McCain appearance with his pal Don Imus this morning (on the purportedly liberal AM 940 down here in "Flawrida..." or as much as I could stand, anyway. And his defense of Palin not going on "Meet the Press" was basically laughter. He laughed, and laughed, and laughed, and still didn't explain why C.B. couldn't do the show.

There will be a Sarah Palin deposition in the Troopergate case on Friday, which I'm sure Team McCain is looking forward to. And it turns out the Alaska governor may have tried to cover up state spending on her kids:

An investigation has revealed she charged the state for her children to travel with her, including to events where they were not invited, and later changed expense reports to indicate that they were on official business.

The charges, which totalled more than £10,000, included costs for hotel stays and commercial flights for three daughters to watch their father in a snowmobile race.

Other expenses included a trip to New York, where Mrs Palin attended a five-hour conference and stayed with 17 - year- old daughter Bristol for five days and four nights in a hotel.

The investigation, by Associated Press, found that Mrs Palin had charged the state of Alaska for 64 oneway and 12 round-trip commercial f lights since she took office in December 2006. In other cases, she charged the state for hotel rooms for the girls.

Alaska law does not address expenses for a governor's children, but does allow for payment of expenses for anyone conducting official state business.

The latest allegations come soon after an inquiry found that the Republican vice-presidential candidate had violated ethics laws in attempts to get her former brother-in-law, a state trooper, fired after an acrimonious divorce from her sister.
And the latest NBC/WSJ poll finds that Keith Olbermann may have been right back in September about the McCain campaign being better off ditching Sarah altogether:
Fifty-five percent of respondents say she’s not qualified to serve as president if the need arises, up five points from the previous poll.

In addition, for the first time, more voters have a negative opinion of her than a positive one. In the survey, 47 percent view her negatively, versus 38 percent who see her in a positive light.

That’s a striking shift since McCain chose Palin as his running mate in early September, when she held a 47 to 27 percent positive rating.

Now, Palin’s qualifications to be president rank as voters’ top concern about McCain’s candidacy - ahead of continuing President Bush’s policies, enacting economic policies that only benefit the rich and keeping too high of a troop presence in Iraq.

Even women aren't feeling her, which was part of the point of picking her, no? More details on the poll data for the wonky types here.

Meanwhile, how does Tina Fey do such a dead-on imitation of Sarah P? Two words: ear glue...

And lastly, not to put too fine a point on it, but can you really become the vice president if you still don't know what a vice president does?

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posted by JReid @ 10:02 AM  
Thursday, October 02, 2008
Operation Get Ifill
Did she fall ... or was she pushed...?

BUMPED>>>

Was there a right winger in a black ski mask lurking around in the shadows when Gwin Ifill fell down the stairs in her home and broke her ankle? Just asking... BTW the NY Observer observes that a certain Wasila barracuda once played a legendary basketball game on a bum ankle, too...

Ahem.

Having failed in their desperate attempts to get the mainstream media to portray Joe Biden as just as dimwitted as their gal, Sarah Palin, the right wing noise machine is deploying a new strategy on the eve of the most anticipated vice presidential debate in modern history: Take Down The Moderator: Gwen Ifill.

Drudge led the way with a blockbuster headline this morning announcing what many in Washington already knew: that she has a book on black politics in the "age of Obama" that's set to drop on inauguration day. Drudge, of course, links to a reputable and impartial news source: WorldNetDaily, where Ifill is accused by various sources of being "in the tank" for Obama, of hoping he wins so as to boost book sales, and of "giving dismissive looks" following Palin's RNC acceptance speech. Seriously. She supposedly made unpleasant faces. Maybe she and Nancy Pelosi could see the GOP Nanny 911 together...

Meanwhile, over at Fox News, Greta Van Susteren declares a mistrial. The RedState crew accuses Ifill of having a financial interest in the outcome of the election,

On this one, McCain, shockingly, keeps his head, while all those around him are acting ... like John McCain... The GOP nominee says he approves this moderator.

I think the GOPers would have a point ... if Gwen Ifill was either 1) not a serious journalist, but rather a political hatchet carrier, like Jerome Corsi, with whom some of them are trying to draw an analogy ... 2) moderating a debate featuring Barack Obama. Neither is the case. Gwen Ifill's reputation is nearly universal, for those without an agenda, as a serious and respected journalist. And Obama will not be on the stage.

Beside, her book, "The Breakthrough: Politics and Race in the Age of Obama," according to the much linked Amazon.com write-up, is about black politicians more broadly, not just about Obama. The write-up reads:
In THE BREAKTHROUGH, veteran journalist Gwen Ifill surveys the American political landscape, shedding new light on the impact of Barack Obama’s stunning presidential campaign and introducing the emerging young African American politicians forging a bold new path to political power.

Ifill argues that the Black political structure formed during the Civil Rights movement is giving way to a generation of men and women who are the direct beneficiaries of the struggles of the 1960s. She offers incisive, detailed profiles of such prominent leaders as Newark Mayor Cory Booker, Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick, and U.S. Congressman Artur Davis of Alabama, and also covers up-and-coming figures from across the nation. Drawing on interviews with power brokers like Senator Obama, former Secretary of State Colin Powell, Vernon Jordan, the Reverend Jesse Jackson, and many others, as well as her own razor-sharp observations and analysis of such issues as generational conflict and the "black enough" conundrum, Ifill shows why this is a pivotal moment in American history.
Nowhere in that write-up do I see an endorsement of, or even a biographical sketch of, Barack Obama. Rather, Ifill is writing about how "black politics" has changed in light of his candidacy, which by the way will be "stunning" whether he wins or not, simply by virtue of its scope, primary success, fundraising, and the fact of an African-American claiming the nomination of not just any major political party, but of the party that for the most part, led the charge to keep black people in chains until about 40 years ago. A book about that doesn't hang on Obama's election, so Ifill can rightly claim to be dispassionate about the upcoming debate, which once again for those in the cheap seats, DOESN'T INVOLVE BARACK OBAMA.

To make the wingers' analogy work, Gwen Ifill wouldn't be allowed to moderate a debate between ANY black politician and an opponent, because of this book. (And Tom Brokaw couldn't moderate a debate about any member of the "greatest generation," including John McCain.)

But of course, that would be ridiculous.

UPDATE: McCain reverses his initial grown-up stance on Ifill, and pouts on Fox & Friends.
“Frankly, I wish they had picked a moderator that isn’t writing a book favorable to Barack Obama — let's face it," McCain said on "Fox & Friends." "But I have to have to have confidence that Gwen Ifill will handle this as the professional journalist that she is. ...

“Life isn’t fair, as I mentioned earlier in the program.”
Also on Fox's ridiculous morning show, Ed Rendell helps the other side game out how best to use Ifill to their advantage:

RENDELL: Well, what we -- what I would advise my people to do is make a big stink about it but not remove the moderator so the moderator would bend over backward to be fair to me...
CARLSON: Exactly.

RENDELL: ... to show that he or she was fair.

CARLSON: Yes.

RENDELL: So we'd use it to our advantage.

CARLSON: Well, and it could be used an advantage for Sarah Palin tonight...

RENDELL: Sure.

CARLSON: ... because all eyes, right or wrong, will be on the questioning of the Gwen Ifill.

RENDELL: Right.
Steve Doocy was in on the conversation, too, but I cut him out because ... well ... he's stupid.

Meanwhile again ... the right is lying through its teeth when it claims no one knew about the Ifill book before the debate was agreed to in August:
In fact, media outlets, including the Associated Press, reported that Ifill was the book's author well before the August 21 announcement that she would moderate the debate.

... Ifill's role as moderator of the October 2 vice presidential debate was announced in an August 21 joint statement from the Obama and McCain campaigns, which is posted on the McCain-Palin website.
And Gwen Ifill reacts to all the sturm and drang over the debate.

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posted by JReid @ 1:20 PM  
Wednesday, October 01, 2008
How to debate Sarah Palin
A bit of free advice to Joe Biden in his debate tomorrow with Sarah:

1. Pretend she isn't stupid -- The available video suggests Gov. Palin is actually a pretty good debater, and a master at diffusing specifics with shiny, pleasant sounding generalities. Besides, you get no points for treating her like an idiot, no matter how dumb she might sound. So no matter how absurdly general her answers, treat them seriously, and treat her like she's a serious politician, and an equal. Refer to her as "Governor," not "Sarah," and try not to make faces when she's talking that translate on television as "oh my god, what a moron!" See Katie Couric's therapist-like interview faces for reference.

2. Don't be snide -- Governor Palin isn't good at putting together complex thoughts, and she isn't in possession of a lot of words, but she does do one thing well: the snide laugh line. She'll probably have one or two zingers rehearsed for Thursday night, and when she drops them, be prepared with a snappy, but jovial, comeback. Let her come off as the nasty one.

3. Don't be a smarty-pants -- Unfortunately, Americans don't seem to like the smartest kid in the room. Even when the country is going down in flames, most prefer someone they like, to someone who seems to know more. Keep your answers short and simple, and not larded up with "I've been theres" and "I know that leaders" -- just ask John McCain. It doesn't work.

4. Don't look at her legs -- One of Palin's key strategies could be taglined, "pretty always wins." Since she's a "conservative" brand of "feminist," she's not above using her looks to her advantage. That's why she wore her hair down in the Fox News interview -- she knows that the geezers who watch that station like a little cake on their plate. And she wears skirts that highlight her lower limbs. So whatever you do, don't look down (if the debate is behind podiums, apply the same advice to her cleavage area.)

5. Don't go easy on her -- A tie goes to Ms. Palin, who will get tremendous credit from both the punditocracy and the public if she literally doesn't drool or fall on the floor. So hit the issues hard, without making it about her. Your target during the debate should be John McCain, and Palin figures in only to the extent that you can tie her beliefs and policies to his, and to the extent that her shortcomings point out HIS irresponsibility in putting her on the ticket. Let the moderator point out her dubious record and odd past performances. One exception: do use the phrase "bridge to nowhere" sometime during the 90 minutes, and feel free to point out Alaska's penchant for earmarks and pork. Those issues are relevant because they expose McCain's hypocrisy.

2. Don't count on her to stumble -- Gov. Palin will be so completely rehearsed and robotically programmed by the Rovites, she almost can't screw this thing up. Besides, to repeat, a tie goes to her, and if she gets through the 90 minutes without spitting up, crying or forgetting who the current president of the United States is, most of the media chattering class will declare her the winner, just for beating expectations.

Make no mistake: Biden (who I believe won a couple of those primary debates, though he didn't get credit for it) can't just turn in a so-so performance and walk away unscathed. He has to actually WIN this debate, by being more knowledgeable than (which is a foregone conclusion) but also just as charming, as Sarah Palin. Otherwise he'll be the one being ridiculed on SNL this weekend, for losing to a dumb girl.

Cross-posted at TPM Cafe.

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posted by JReid @ 1:11 PM  
Saturday, September 06, 2008
Sarah Palin: not ready to take questions on day one
So, we're supposed to take Sarah Palin seriously as a potential vice president of the United States, AND accept that she's not ready to take questions from reporters ... because she might make a mistake???

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posted by JReid @ 7:02 PM  
Wednesday, September 03, 2008
A sexist vetting process?
Is it sexist that Sarah Palin received only a last-minute, cursory vetting, when the men in the process were thoroughly gone over? Dan Balz of the WaPo reports:
ST. PAUL, Minn., Sept. 2 -- Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin was not subjected to a lengthy in-person background interview with the head of Sen. John McCain's vice presidential vetting team until last Wednesday in Arizona, the day before McCain asked her to be his running mate, and she did not disclose the fact that her 17-year-old daughter was pregnant until that meeting, two knowledgeable McCain officials acknowledged Tuesday.

Palin was one of two finalists in the vice presidential sweepstakes who were interviewed last week by former White House counsel Arthur B. Culvahouse Jr., just days before McCain introduced her to the nation as his choice. The other finalist was Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty. One of the officials said Culvahouse was chasing down last-minute information about Pawlenty at the request of the campaign as late as last Thursday, the day McCain offered the job to Palin and she accepted. ...

... McCain did not speak face to face with Palin until Thursday morning, at his retreat in Sedona, Ariz. He also talked to her by telephone the previous Sunday. McCain had spoken with all of the others on his shortlist over the course of a selection process that went on for several months, but he was least familiar personally with the person he finally chose.

Palin flew to Arizona last Wednesday and met with senior McCain advisers Steve Schmidt and Mark Salter that night in Flagstaff. What had not been known previously was that she had met earlier the same day with Culvahouse.

McCain advisers said they had gathered extensive information about Palin before that meeting, including details of an ongoing investigation in Alaska involving her firing of the state's public safety commissioner. Details of her life and her record as governor that have since emerged in media accounts were discovered during that process, they said.

Palin, along with other finalists, completed a lengthy questionnaire that probed many personal issues. Campaign officials declined Tuesday to respond to questions about whether she had returned the questionnaire to the vetting team before she arrived in Arizona, saying they would not provide details of the timing of the process.

McCain officials said that questionnaire and the personal interview revealed three new facts previously unknown to the team: Palin's daughter's pregnancy, the arrest of her husband two decades ago for driving while intoxicated, and a fine Palin paid for fishing without proper identification.

"We made a political determination that the American people would not object to a female candidate with a 17-year-old daughter who was pregnant," Schmidt said Tuesday. "We believed that parents all over America would understand that life happens. The team made a recommendation to the senator that these issues were not disqualifying."

As for the men:
The search process started in the spring. McCain's vetting team was given a list of 20 names and Culvahouse's group prepared lengthy background books on each candidate, based primarily on a search of public records. Ultimately, the list of 20 was pared to six serious finalists, then to two, and finally to Palin. According to several campaign sources, Palin was on the list from the start.

In addition to Palin and Pawlenty, the four other finalists are believed to have been Sen. Joseph I. Lieberman, the Democrat-turned-independent from Connecticut; former Pennsylvania governor Tom Ridge; former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney; and Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal.

All six were subjected to a lengthy background investigation that included a review of tax returns dating back seven years, a credit check, and a 70-item questionnaire that addressed nannies and household employees, infidelity, payment for sex, treatment for drug or alcohol abuse, and other personally intrusive subjects.

Last weekend, two campaign officials told The Washington Post that the background investigation of the finalists included an FBI check of any possible ongoing criminal investigations. That information was incorrect. A knowledgeable official said Tuesday that the vetting team had hoped to run such a check but that FBI officials declined to do so because that type of inquiry is reserved for people nominated for senior administration jobs. The official also said the FBI was uncomfortable providing the information to a political campaign, rather than to government officials.


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posted by JReid @ 8:16 AM  
Tuesday, September 02, 2008
An insult
The Palin pick analyzed by an actual woman...

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posted by JReid @ 9:48 AM  
Friday, August 29, 2008
Palin's Israel/Florida problem
Obama Main Man Robert Wexler has called Palin a "far right, pro-life zealot," and he's hitting her hard for her past support of Pat Buchanan, which could spell trouble with Jewish voters, and that means trouble in Florida...

John McCain's decision to select a vice presidential running mate that endorsed Pat Buchanan for President in 2000 is a direct affront to all Jewish Americans. Pat Buchanan is a Nazi sympathizer with a uniquely atrocious record on Israel, even going as far as to denounce bringing former Nazi soldiers to justice and praising Adolf Hilter for his "great courage."

At a time when standing up for Israel's right to self-defense has never been more critical, John McCain has failed his first test of leadership and judgment by selecting a running mate who has aligned herself with a leading anti-Israel voice in American politics. It is frightening that John McCain would select someone one heartbeat away from the presidency who supported a man who embodies vitriolic anti-Israel sentiments.


Palin has tried to clarify, saying she wasn't actually a Buchananite. But nobody told the lovable (and I mean that) Pat, who lauded Palin as a fellow traveler on "Hardball" today:



Robert Wexler just got a major shot in the arm in rallying Palm Beach Jewish voters who may have been wavering on Barack.
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posted by JReid @ 11:11 PM  
ABC: Palin displaced Lieberman, not Romney
ABC News has the inside story on the Palin pick, and it seems she became the default choice after John McCain finally accepted that he could not push Lieberman through. (Apparently that's what was behind those Karl Rove calls, which now seem logically to have been orchestrated by his former lieutenant, Steve Schmidt.) From ABC's Political Radar:

ABC's Jan Crawford Greenburg reports: It wasn't until Sunday night that John McCain, after meeting with his four top advisers, finally decided he could not tap independent Sen. Joe Lieberman of Connecticut to be his running mate. One adviser, tasked with taking the temperature of the conservative base, had strongly made the case to McCain that it would be a disaster for the party and that the base would revolt. McCain concluded he could not go that route.

The next day, McCain studied the three men at the top of his shortlist: Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney and former Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Ridge. All had different strengths and negatives, but McCain was not satisfied. None of them had what McCain believed he needed to do -- and would have done -- with Lieberman.

McCain wanted to shake up the ticket.

Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin's name was in the mix as an unconventional choice for months, but she had not been considered a front-runner. So, over the next few days, with McCain continuing to believe he needed someone who had more of a maverick streak than his other choices, lawyers reviewed her vetting information. They kept their activities from even some in McCain's most senior inner circle.

Apparently, Pawlenty was seen as young enough, but too "safe." And Romney appears not to have been a serious contender in the end. No wonder both men's people are miffed. So after flying Palin in for a single, secret meeting, McCain apprently decided he was comfortable, she was maverick enough, and damnit, he liked her. And there she goes.


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posted by JReid @ 10:19 PM  
Huh???
John McCain says "damn the torpedoes!" He torpedoes the Mittster and picks this lady:

Well, who the hell is that, you say? Why, it's just hinted at for the first time this week, one-term Alaska Governor Sarah Palin! Oh just call Ted Stevens. He'll explain...

Is it just me, or does it seem like the McCain team simply wandered through the halls of the Pepsi Center looking for the first PUMA who looked halfway put together to offer the veep spot to?

Meanwhile,

The right wing radio hacks are right on board. Glenn Beck got his talking points bright and early this morning and began shilling for the ticket in exhuberant fashion. He even went so far as to call Palin "hot." Now that'll close the gender gap... Rush is holding forth now, extolling Palin and daring Democrats to attack her. Ditto O'Reilly, who just had a Hillary delegate on, who first told the Factor she "leaned Obama" and then announced that she's "McCain all the way..." uh-huh...

You've got to figure that this happened because the McCain team pannicked, and decided they needed drama more than they needed Romney's 3-Ms (Money, Mormons (in swing state Colorado) and Michigan, where his father was a popular governor.) Romney would have been the expected pick, but not at all sexy. And then there's his fourth "M" -- Mansions. After McCain's 8-10 houses gaffe, that boat had a significant leak in it. Either way, the Mittster got bumped, as did the seminally dull Tim Pawlenty (sorry RedState.)

And there you go. McCain will shift his campaign theme on a dime, "Obama hates America," to "hey ladies, look over here!" The McCain camp is banking on their being literally millions of female Hillary supporters who were in it only to see a woman in the White House, not specifically Hillary. That's a risky gamble. And Palin doesn't exactly cut the profile most women voters tend to gravitate to. She's hardcore anti-choice, and she's into ... um ... the aerial hunting of wolves and bears. How to sell that to Jane America? Actually, with that voice and bun in her hair, she kind of reminds me of that supervisor in my past jobs that I just freaking hated, you know what I mean?

Bottom line: the McCain pick was made from a weak position. They were clearly spooked by the McMansions thing, and by the convention, Democratic unity, and the Obama speech. The decision to throw Mitt overboard for a woman nobody knows, who has a scandal bag to uncover, and who undercuts McCain's "experience" argument seems like a hell of a chance to take just to score some PUMAs.

Cross-posted at Diamond John McCain.


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posted by JReid @ 1:43 PM  
RedState foiled again?

Ben and Eric at RedState say their "sources" say Tim Pawlenty will be John McCain's new sidekick (can you be the sidekick of a sidekick...?) And they're urging the faithful to prepare to absorb the talking points.

Well not so fast...

MSNBC is reporting that Pawlenty is not the one. And Pawlenty told a radio station he won't even be in Dayton.

Chuck Todd is reporting that Mitt Romney won't be in Dayton (not even as a seat filler...) By the way, I think that if it isn't Romney, then THAT is political malpractice on McCain's part. Maybe the combined 13 houses pushed Romney into "risk" territory for McCain's message, but you've got to wonder why the GOPer would pick an unkonwn governor with no national profile and no "wow" factor (and a very recent mullet) as his veep rather than the Mittster, who brings a high profile (Olympics), executive experience (even if in Massachusetts), good debating skills, and as close as you're going to get to national star power for the moribund GOP. Romney brings the Mormon cash, and help in Michigan and Colorado. Hello? Maybe Mac was scared of the Youtubes of Mitt bashing him during the primary...

Well since I have been predicting Romney for months, why not just RedState myself into an even tighter corner, by predicting who it won't be:

It won't be Charlie Crist. He's gay, you know. Don't let the "fiancee" fool you. And how would THAT look during a convention in the land of Wide Stance?

It won't be Bobby Jindal. The GOP convention is being held on the anniversary week of Hurricane Katrina's devastating aftermath. And Jindal has other things to do, with Gustav bearing down.

It won't be Kay Bailey Hutchinson. She just about ruled herself out on MSNBC yesterday, and word on the street is that she and McCain don't get along (yeah, you and everybody else in the Senate except Joementum and Miss Lindsay...)

It won't be Sarah Palin. Like most of the women on the list, she comes off as a straight pander to Hillaryites. But here's the problem: there aren't enough PUMAs out there to make a difference. Their numbers have been inflated by the media, who love the storyline. And the ones who do exist are for the most part, already Republicans (or in New York and California, where they won't make a difference.) And Palin is that one-term governor from a state McCain is already carrying that I spoke of earlier. Her lack of experience makes Obama look like FDR in his third term...

It won't be Carly Fiorina. One word: Viagra.

That leaves Pawlenty, Tom Ridge, Joe Lieberman, Meg Whitman and the Mittster. And of these, MSNBC claims they've ruled out Pawlenty and Romney.

Meg has money galore, but she's untested in debates and has zilch to offer on national security. She doesn't pass the "ready to step in and be president if the geezer croaks" test. If McCain picks her, it's a straight up pander and gamble for national attention. (And there's that Ted Stevens problem.)

Ridge could help in PA, and McCain would probably just as soon pick him, but I find it hard to imagine McCain being able to sell pro-choice Ridge to this particular GOP. And his ties to the Bush administration would strengthen Obama's message about McCain being more of the same.

That means Lieberman won't fly either. Can you imagine McCain trying to get Lieberman nominated at a convention that's already going to be testy and boring? We're talking bourgeois riot, here.

McCain could pull a rabbit out of his hat, if he somehow convinced David Petraeus to run with him. But somehow I doubt it. Why would he risk a sure thing at CENTCOM to roll the dice with 2008's Bob Dole?

Which brings us back to the Hair. And if not the Hair, then who? I still think there's an outside chance they're pulling subterfuge with the Romney travel schedule, and that he will still be the guy.

Whatever the answer, it's clear that McCain's team has succeeded in its real aim: turning attention abruptly away from the Obama speech last night, and from the Democratic convention generally, onto the One Who Will Not Be Ignored: John McCain.


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posted by JReid @ 8:11 AM  
Thursday, August 28, 2008
Desperado
So tacky, so desperate for attention is the McCain campaign, so needy for a constant center spot on the stage, they are dropping hints all over town, and on Drudge, that the McMansions Man will leak his veep choice this evening, to try and step on Obama's historic acceptance speech tonight. And McCain will even drop precedent by issuing a response ad to Obama's address.

(UPDATE: team Obama calls the leak talk potential "political malpractice..." and they add: "It's one more piece of evidence that the McCain campaign is a war room masquerading as a presidential campaign." Indeed...)

It strikes me that the McCain campaign is full of people who aren't even good enough Americans to acknowledge the history being made to day, and the great things it says about our country, whether individual people support Barack or not. John McCain has damaged himself so much with this juvenile, nasty campaign, that if by some miracle of voter stupidity he manages to become president, he will have so cheapened the effort, and engendered so much hatred towards him, his presidency will have no chance of uniting the country. Sadly, his campaign has also made it difficult, if not impossible for Barack to do so either.

Okay John, we'll play with you (even though you creep me out...) I still think the odds favor Mitt Romney, although given the neediness of this campaign, and their jealousy over their man's fading celebrity status, I can see them blinking, and going for the long ball: a female running mate. Kay Bailey Hutchinson kind of fits the bill, but she's not "reliably pro-life" to my knowledge, and she's from a state McCain already has (Texas.) Besides, word is they can't stand each other (join the Senate club, Kay...) The other choice would be Meg Whitman (sorry Carly, but the Viagra thing killed your shot...) who's kind of a Mitt Romney in a dress, without the governing experience. Trouble with her: she's not ready to be president by McCain's own standards. So what to do with that? Lieberman? That would be McCain's pick if he could have it his way. But he's already been RickRoved on that one.

So it's back to Romney. (Pawlenty recently had a mullet. What would be the point?)


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posted by JReid @ 3:41 PM  
McCain's auspicious day
Over to the other bloghouse for a look at John McCain's veepinations... (and Karl Rove's role in them...)

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posted by JReid @ 12:44 AM  
Monday, August 25, 2008
Surprise, surprise...
Bill Kristol endorses his fellow neocon traveler, Joe Lieberman, for McCain's v.p.



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posted by JReid @ 8:48 AM  
Saturday, August 23, 2008
Things that aren't going to happen: Collin Powell as McCain v.p.
How desperate for attention is the McCain campaign? So desperate, they're floating their own black guy (take that, liberal media...! Can somebody get Fournier on the line...? We've got fresh talking points for him...)
(Politico) Retired Gen. Colin Powell is among the potential running mates who have been considered by John McCain, campaign advisers told Politico.

Powell was among the possible vice presidential choices the Arizona Republican senator was thinking of when he said he would not rule out a supporter of abortion rights, a key adviser said.

Campaign officials say McCain has told them not to discuss the process.

Powell, who was President Bush's first secretary of state, would add celebrity to the ticket, as well as reinforce McCain's strength as a potential commander in chief, which his campaign considers to be one of his chief assets.
Nice of you to play along, Politico's Mike Allen, but you've got to know that this is a non-starter. Let me count the ways:

1. Colin Powell is from the Bush administration. You remember the Bush administration, right? The one that John McCain is trying his damnedest to run away from?

2. Colin Powell is pro-choice. We've seen this movie before. It's called "Rush Limbaugh and the Christian Taliban Shoot Down Ridge and Lieberman." The idea of nominating Powell, given the rabidness of the right on the abortion issue, is so preposterous, it makes me question the sanity of the McCain campaign if they are indeed floating this trial balloon. (Powell is also pro-affirmative action. See above, and insert "affirmative action" everywhere I typed "abortion.")

3. It's not even clear that Colin Powell supports John McCain. In fact, many in Washington believe he will either remain neutral, or endorse Barack Obama.

4. Collin Powell has lost his religion on Iraq. Powell, who has the dubious distinction in history of having sold the bogus Bush administration intel on Iraq to the world, has called his U.N. testimony "a lasting blot on his record." You really think McCain wants clips of either Powell's phony-baloney testimony, or his retractions and regrets aired repeatedly between now and November? I think not. And with Joe Lieberman and Randy Scheunemann hanging around, there is clearly no room for dissenters on the Neocon Express. Besides, it's now a known fact that Powell hates the neocons who dragged his reputation into the ditch to get their Iraq war. Why would he even think about serving with the same crowd again?

This strikes me as pure media manipulation, which Allen sadly fell for. Collin Powell will no more be on McCain's short list than Phil Gramm. Besides, McCain doesn't need to double down on the Iraq war. He's running on an all-war, all the time platform as it is. Powell would be surperfluous, not to mention unacceptable to the GOP Taliban, not to mention very likely not interested.

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posted by JReid @ 11:39 PM  
Why the media 'vetting' may turn off middle America, and help Obama-Biden
The ticket: so fresh and so clean

The media has already begun searching for bad news in the Obama Biden pick. And what many are settling on are his gaffes, joking about Indian-Americans owning 7-11s and Obama being "articulate."

Well maybe we should take a poll. How many Americans have made a joke about Indians in the 7-11? Probably more than a few. Probably a hell of a lot more, and not just white people. If that and the fact that he talks too much is the best the media can do to try and take down Joe Biden as Obama's v.p., then the MSM is going to turn off a lot of middle America (not to mention Matt Groening)...

Did I mention that Obama and Biden are making their debut in Springfield...?

Meanwhile, sure, the "articulate, bright and clean" comment was dumb, but again, being lauded as "articulate" is something that anyone who is black and educated in America has heard over and over again from white people who genuinely believe they're giving us a compliment ("my goodness, you're soooo articulate!") So why would white Amerca suddenly turn on Biden for saying it? And watching Rush "little black man child" Limbaugh and Hannity attack Biden as racist is going to be as fun as anything I've experienced.

And they're going to have a tough time taking down Biden, who is one of Washington's most experienced and respected hands, and a guy with one hell of a personal story, including the tragedy of losing his first wife and infant daughter:
In 1966, while in law school, Biden married Neilia Hunter. They had three children, Joseph R. "Beau" Biden III, Robert Hunter, and Naomi.

His wife and infant daughter died in a car accident shortly after he was first elected to the U.S. Senate in 1972. His two young sons, Beau and Hunter, were seriously injured in the accident, but both eventually made full recoveries. Biden was sworn into office from their bedside. Persuaded not to resign in order to care for them, Biden began the practice of commuting an hour and a half each day on the train from his home in the Wilmington suburbs to Washington, DC, which he continues to do.

In 1977, Biden married Jill Tracy Jacobs. They have one daughter, Ashley, and are members of the Roman Catholic Church. In February 1988, Biden was hospitalized for two brain aneurysms which kept him from the Senate for seven months.

Biden's elder son, Beau, was a partner in the Wilmington law firm of Bifferato, Gentilotti, Biden & Balick, LLC and was elected Attorney General of Delaware in 2006. He is a captain in the Delaware Army National Guard, where he serves in the Judge Advocate General's (JAG) Corps. He is set to be deployed to Iraq in October. Biden's younger son, Hunter, works as a lawyer in Washington, DC, serves on the board of directors of Amtrak, and previously worked in the Commerce Department.

Since 1991, Biden has also served as an adjunct professor at the Widener University School of Law, where he teaches a seminar on constitutional law.
Needless to say, I like the Biden pick. And here's my choice for the campaign's new theme song.

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posted by JReid @ 12:46 PM  
Leaking news: It's Obama-Biden
That's the ticket: Obama reportedly taps Joe Biden as veep

A Democratic official is leaking all over the Obama campaign's carefully crafted text message announcement. Apparently, I and lots of other prognosticators were correct -- Joe Biden is the pick -- unless we've all been Rick-rolled...

The McCain camp's response suggests the theme of their coming attacks:
There has been no harsher critic of Barack Obama's lack of experience than Joe Biden. Biden has denounced Barack Obama's poor foreign policy judgment and has strongly argued in his own words what Americans are quickly realizing -- that Barack Obama is not ready to be President."
-- McCain spokesman Ben Porritt
Yeah, good luck with that. But it does suggest that Team McCain has no clear line of sight on Biden himself. He is a very respected figure, whom it would be hard even for a complete traitorous hack like Joe Lieberman to attack.

Overall: I'm thrilled with the pick. Biden was my secret favorite of all the candidates because he's knowledgeable, direct, down-to-earth and funny. Had Barack not been in the race, he was my second choice (Hillary third.) Biden was by far the best choice for Obama, and he'll fit right into the attack role, though he has had the odd bad performance...

BTW, two of the runners up, Tim Kaine and Kathleen Sebelius, are apparently booked on the Sunday shows. Biden, I suspect will get a TV walk-around, too.

Last but not least, on to the Pubs: I'm also on the line for Romney, so hopefully the McMansion story won't put McCain off him 'cuz he's too rich...

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posted by JReid @ 2:24 AM  
Friday, August 22, 2008
Things fall apart
Could the McMansions flap scuttle John McCain's plans to name Mitt Romney, the single richest candidate to run for president this cycle, as his running mate? Would this multi-million dollar ticket look like a scene out of Oliver Twist, given that even some conservatives have noticed how tilted McCain's tax plans are toward the very wealthy ... like himself and his wife?

Already, McCain's team is having to come to grips with the fact that given their candidate's houses comment, it's going to be tough going forward, to paint the skinny kid from a single parent household whose mom was on food stamps and who went to college on student loans (McCain went on the taxpayer's dime, though he opposed the same opportunities for today's veterans...) as the elitist in the race.

Add Romney to the picture, and you get to do fun things like go back through the net worth rankings from the primaries:

Republicans (millions) Democrats (millions)
Mitt Romney - $202 - Full Review Hilary Clinton - $34.9 - Full Review
Rudolph Giuliani - $52.2 - Full Review Barrack Obama - $1.3 - Full Review
Fred Thompson - $8.1 - Full Review John Edwards - $54.7 - Full Review
John McCain - $40.4 - Full Review

... revealing that even during primary season, Barack Obama was -- and stil is -- the poor man in the race. Since then (last December,) Obama's average net worth (over 12 months) has been revised down to $799,000, versus $36.4 million for McCain (not counting his wife's $100 million inheritance, which is sealed away from him via pre-nup.) Add Romney's $200- or even $250 million fortune, and these guys aren't even playing in the same league.

Meanwhile, Byron York misses the plot.


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posted by JReid @ 10:47 PM  
Chet Edwards doesn't get you Texas
The AP says 9-term Texas Congressman Chet Edwards, a Nancy Pelosi favorite, is on the short-short list. While that's nice for Nancy, and Edwards does chair a veterans committee, I'm not sure what he brings to the table, and he's an unknown quantity in a debate. I still am going with Biden as the pick. Said as much on the radio today, so hopefully I won't have to eat crow come Monday!

Just to be thorough, a bit more on Edwards:

Among his credentials, Edwards is chairman of the House Military Construction and Veterans Affairs Appropriations Subcommittee. His district previously included Fort Hood, and the Waco Democrat is frequently pressed into service as a surrogate for the party on military issues.

Potential liabilities include Edwards vote in favor of the war in Iraq, which may not sit well with the party's liberal base. He is a low-profile member of Congress, whose selection may not give Obama's ever-tightening race against Republican John McCain the immediate boost the party is looking for.

Edwards is a native of Corpus Christi and graduate of Texas A&M University and Harvard Business School. His Central Texas congressional district includes President Bush's Crawford ranch.

Edwards has some seeming advantages: he endorsed Obama way back in February, he's a southern while male, which apparently is important to getting a Democrat into the White House, and he's a centrist (although the NRO folks point out he'd be a heartbeat away from reversing most of Obama's policies, and he voted for the war in Iraq ... then again, so did Biden...) He's also a good looking guy who would match up well with Obama, if he's not really short. I mean, he actually looks like a Chet, based on his Congressional pic. And from his official bio, more fuel for why Chet may be on fire, as it were...

As the Chairman of the Military Construction and Veterans Affairs Appropriations Subcommittee, Congressman Edwards is known as a national champion for America’s veterans, troops, and their families. In 2007, he authored the largest increase in veterans funding in the 77-year history of the Veterans Administration, an $11.8 billion increase. American Legion National Commander Marty Conatser called Edwards’ record VA Appropriations bill, “a monumental achievement.” This year, both the American Legion and Veterans of Foreign Wars recognized Congressman Edwards’ leadership with their national awards given to only one member of Congress. In 2007, he was awarded the Disabled American Veterans' “Going to Bat for Veterans” award for authoring the historic VA funding increases. Working with Speaker Pelosi in 2005, Congressman Edwards introduced the GI Bill of Rights for the 21st Century, which dramatically improved veterans’ health care and benefits, and covered the full cost of a college education. Edwards then received the Military Order of the Purple Heart’s "Inspirational Leadership" award in 2005. In 2008, Chairman Edwards played a key role in enacting the new GI Bill of Rights into law.

Nancy, you scamp... BTW Edwards is a Baptist, which doesn't help with the Catholic gap... And I'm not sure the Democrats would want to chance losing his seat (he has a challenger) when every vote counts to keep a strong majority in the House. I'd be surprised if he's the pick, and as I said before, I remain bullish on Biden, but hey, anything can happen...



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posted by JReid @ 5:12 PM  
Tuesday, August 19, 2008
Veepstakes update: Biden or...
A source I highly respect within the Obama orbit told me tonight that the veep pick is down to two candidates: one you know, and one you ... know, but didn't think had a shot. According to this source, it's down to Joe Biden and (gulp) ... Hillary Clinton. I think a Clinton pick would be, problematic?... but it would chump the national press corps and be a hell of a media coup.

The Obama camp remains mum. I await my especial text message...
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posted by JReid @ 8:34 PM  
Monday, August 18, 2008
Veepstakes: final countdown
Okay, it's that time again. Barack Obama is expected to make his veep pick this week, while McCain is expected to make his pick on the Friday that closes the Democratic convention. So here are my prognostications, starting with five assumptions I'm using as the basis for my forecast:

1. Barack Obama probably won't pick a general. Why? Because the veep has only two real functions during this campaign: attacking John McCain, and beating John McCain's pick in the lone vice presidential debate. None of the really fantastic generals who have been mentioned as possibilities: Anthony Zinni, Scott Gration, or even Wes Clark, is a proven debater. In fact, Clark, who was my choice for president in 2004, turned out to be a pretty poor debater that cycle, which is one of the reasons he lost. Clark, who is the only general in the mix who has experience running a national campaign, also proved to be a less than stellar campaigner, while his first foray at attack politics this year (the very true statement that being shot down isn't a qualification for president,) bombed with the press. Obama needs a proven debater, attacker, and campaigner, and I can't think of a general who fits the bill. The last thing he needs is an Admiral Stockdale moment...

2. There's a better than 50 percent chance John McCain will pick a woman. Picking a woman would be a smart strategy for McCain to turn up the excitement and shift the conversation to his campaign after what will likely be a big convention week for Democrats -- and a comparatively dull one for Republicans (with the exception of the sure-to-be hilarious bathroom stall jokes on latenight all week.) By picking a woman, McCain may hope to blunt Obama's veep's attack mode, by making it appear that Obama's Number Two is picking on a girl. Also, a woman could help McCain pick up more of the Hillary dead-enders (though most of them are, honestly, already Republicans.) In fact, if Meg Whitman is pro-life, I would bet on her.

3. There's almost zero chance Barack Obama will pick a woman. Not unless he wants to hire a food taster to protect him from Hillary's Congressional supporters. So sorry, Chris Kofinis, you can stop selling Kathleen Sebelius.

4. There's a better than 50 percent chance Barack Obama will pick Joe Biden. Biden fits all the bills -- he's an experienced campaigner after 30 years in politics, he's an excellent attack dog, a foreign policy expert, a seasoned guy who still looks relatively young, and he's a great debater. In fact, had he had the star quality of Obama, Clinton and Edwards, I think Joe Biden might have been declared the winner of some of those Democratic primary debates.

5. Unfortunately, it's unlikely that Obama will pick Chuck Hagel. The convention already promises to have some high drama with the Clinton crowd, so why risk adding a Republican veep to the mix? Besides, Hagel says he is not going to Denver, which means he's not in the running.

Okay, so here are some of the likely finalists, in no particular order.

For McCain:
  1. Mitt Romney - safe choice, solid on economics, can raise lots of dough, help in Michigan, and bring in the Mormon cash -- and votes -- in key states like Colorado. And the large contingent of wingers who preferred the Mittster, including the talk radio hacks, would be satisfied with the pick. Downside: he's a Mormon, which will turn off some Christian righties, and he's a flip-flopper, which will make for some interesting attack ads.

  2. Meg Whitman - 52-year-old former Romney national finance chair, she gets you a link to the Romney fund raising stream without having to talk to Mitt Romney every day. And as a woman and a CEO, she helps with both women and people worried about McCain's lack of economic grasp. Upside: she's a billionaire, which is always helpful in politics, as John "millionaire-marryer" McCain knows well. Downside: she's untested politically, though she plans to run for office someday, and nobody knows how she'd do in a debate. Also, if she's pro-choice, fuhgeddabout it. Also, picking a rich blonde may bring up unfortunate associations in the minds of some voters ... and opponents... Still, McCain's mention of her as one of his "wisest" at Saturday's Rick Warren forum might have been a trial balloon.

  3. Tim Pawlenty - the safest of safe choices for McCain -- dull, but he gets you relative youth and "everyman-ness," a good look in a swing state, and he doesn't offend the wackadoo right.
Most likely as of today? Meg Whitman. I think McCain needs drama more than he needs certainty, and Whitman has a good story to tell. Also, his campaign appears to have finally fixated on one non-militaristic theme: OBAMA WILL RAISE YOUR TAXES. While not having the virtue of being accurate, unless you're earning $250,000 a year or more, it's a tried and true Republican strategy. Picking Romney, who presided over a blue state economy and who has flipped on major positions, might be a risk, while Whitman is not from Washington, not part of the Bush administration, and not an old white man. Does she get you a state? No. But she could make McCain more competitive with older white women. Close second: Mitt.

Okay, now for Barack, who I think has a lot more choices, but I'll also narrow it down to the usual suspect three:
  1. Joe Biden - In some ways, Barack can't miss with Biden. He's smart, experienced, and has great foreign policy chops. As I said above, he knows how to attack (who can forget the "noun, verb and 9/11" line about Rudy Giuliani from the primaries?) On the downside, he can be a gaffe machine, and he talks an awful lot. But that might be less important than having an effective attacker on the trail. Another downside: if Obama picks Biden, the GOP will surely attack the ticket as being "upside-down" when it comes to experience, a la Bush-Cheney. The Obama team will have to have an answer for that.

  2. Tim Kaine - I mention him only because his name is constantly being floated. And while he did a great job on MTP this weekend, Kaine is a relatively inexperienced governor whom it would be hard to imagine stepping into the presidency. (You could say the same for Meg Whitman...) His lack of foreign policy experience makes it hard for me to see him being the guy, and I'm not sure why the Democrats wouldn't rather have him in Virginia, getting out the vote.

  3. Evan Bayh - Bayh-Bayh-Bayh! I just can't help thinking about that boy band song every time I hear his name... Bayh has some advantages -- he's midwestern, has a great looking young family like Baracks, and the two families together look like a great Ralph Laren ad. He's experienced on foreign policy, and was a Clinton ally. But Bayh is also certified boring, a hawk on Iraq and Iran, and an anathema to much of the Democratic base. Could he be the one? Maybe, since he strengthens Obama in the Indiana-Illinois corridor, but something tells me it won't be him.
Most likely pick? I'm going with Biden. Despite the accusations that are sure to come that he's more prepared to be president than Obama, McCain won't be able to find a v.p. who's more prepared than him. He's a sure-fire debater, and a great attacker, which are the two things Obama needs -- and Obama doesn't need to make a splash with his pick, he needs to make white middle class voters comfortable. Biden is comfortable, stable, and probably Obama's strongest pick.

UPDATE:

Add Joe Lieberman to the "maybe" list for John McCain. If he's in a particularly selfish mood, and feels his Rick Warren forum performance solidified him with the Christowinger base, McCain may pick the one he loves the most (sorry Miss Lindsey...) and damn the torpedos... also, if Barack picks Joe Biden, it may actually make it more likely that McCain picks Joe, since Obama's pick will not have been a splashy surprise... Meanwhile, the RedStaters are high five-ing over supposedly killing off Tom Ridge ... don't pop the corks too soon, though, boys, Lieberman is NOT, I repeat NOT, out of the running...

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posted by JReid @ 9:22 AM  
Wednesday, August 13, 2008
Obama veepstakes continue
A guy called William, a Hillary supporter who writes thoughtful analyses of the election that wind up in the in-boxes of political junkies like myself, has done a pretty damned thorough run-down of whose name might be in that Obama text message to supporters regarding his veep choice. (I'm not sure if he wants his full name used, so I'm just going with William.) His assumptions:

  1. His choice will not be a woman - other than Senator Hillary Clinton.
  2. Will not be someone who has already received media attention or speculation as being "vetted," per Senator Obama's own statement.
  3. Will not be a Senator, as two Senators on the same ticket have not been elected since John F. Kennedy and Lyndon B. Johnson in 1960.
  4. Will be from a battleground state that will be in play in November.
  5. Has not ruled self out of the running.
  6. Will be a Catholic, as (a) this segment of the voting population (of the 27% of voters who are Catholic, the Republican Presidential ticket in 2004 had a margin of 5%, which was an increase from the Democratic Presidential ticket’s margin of 2% in 2000) is critical to a Democratic victory, (b) Senator Obama performed poorly with Catholics in the Democratic primaries/caucuses, and (c) polls show Catholics evenly divided between Senators Obama and McCain.

By that reasoning, Wils rules out a long list of potential Obama veeps, including Joe Biden, Chuck Hagel, Jim Webb (whom I rule out because of his "sexism issues" vis-a-vis women voters), Mark Warner (ruled himself out, not Catholic), Kathleen Sebelius and on and on. I agree with many of the rule-outs, excepting Hagel. So William comes up with the following final six (in order of electoral votes):
* Anthony Zinni, Retired General, Pennsylvania: 21 electoral votes, Catholics are 29.4% of the population
* Phil Bredesen, Governor of Tennessee: 11 electoral votes, Catholics are 3.2% of the population
* James Doyle, Governor of Wisconsin: 10 electoral votes, Catholics are 29% of the population
* Bill Ritter, Governor of Colorado: 9 electoral votes, Catholics are 14.7% of the population
* Joe Manchin, Governor of West Virginia: 5 electoral votes, Catholics are 4.6% of the population
* John Lynch, Governor of New Hampshire: 4 electoral votes, Catholics are 24% of the population
Pretty good list, but I'd put Hagel back on , and also add retired Maj. Gen. Scott Gration, a former strategy chief at the U.S. European Command, and the guy who accompanied Obama to Germany as a campaign adviser and whose presence at Ramstein air base was dubbed overly political by the Pentagon. Gration is clean cut and All-American. He's got obvious military cred, and he shares African roots with Obama (he's white, but he grew up in the Congo.) If he can speak, and debate, I'd put him on the list.

I have to say, and quite seriously mind you, that I'd take John Lynch off the list. Not because he's not good enough for the gig, but because I don't think the strategists will like Obama and Lynch in the same sentence. Too much Rush Limbaugh tasteless joke potential.


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posted by JReid @ 12:36 AM  
Wednesday, July 30, 2008
The veepstakes name game
What's in a presidential name combo? Sure it's important that a candidate pick a veep who could govern with him (or her) and who could step into the POTUS job if called on. But let's face it, during the campaign, there's more to it than that. The team has got to look good together (think Clinton-Gore) and tell a story (think McCain-Romney; old guy, younger, more economically literate guy) and shore up each other's deficiency (repeat McCain-Romney.) But as far as I'm concerned, the names have also got to fit together in a way that doesn't sound funny. Especially for the Democrats. With the GOP holding their convention in the land of the Wide Stance, with bathroom stall jokes just waiting to be unleashed for an entire week, why take chances with a funny sounding apellido mix?

Take, for instance, Evan Bayh, whom Howard Fineman claims is among the top three survivors of the Obama list (the others are Kaine and Joe Biden). Together, he and Barack would be "Obahmabye" ... which sounds really screwy. Obama and Joe Biden would be "Obahma-biden" ... which actually works well, because it naturally lends itself to a pause in the middle. Obama-Kaine would come out sounding way too much like "Obamakin" for my liking, but it could remind disgruntled Republicans why they're considering switching sides...

Obama could also make a surprise pick, like retired Air Force Gen. Scott Gration, who traveled to Europe with the Senator, and who is from the solid Illinois Obama pack. Gration has great bona fides that would add a lot to the ticket:
A command pilot with more than 5,000 flight hours, Gration has had extensive combat experience in the Middle East and served as the Commander of Task Force West during Operation Iraqi Freedom. His aerial combat experience included 274 combat missions over Iraq.
And he's got other biographical pluses that would make him an interesting pick:

Raised in Africa, Gration joined the U.S. Air Force ROTC program at Rutgers University and went on to serve as a White House fellow, operations group commander, and as the Director of Regional Affairs in the Office of the Deputy Undersecretary of the Air Force for International Affairs.

"I met Obama when he toured Africa last year," Gration recalled, "and we visited Robins Island, the prison that was home to Nelson Mandela for 27 years. I couldn't help noticing that both men had the same leadership qualities and the same ability to motivate and inspire others."

"I also realized that both men had a strong understanding of history," he relayed. "You gotta know where you've come from if you want to lead the country towards any sort of future."

And yet, together, Obama and the general would make "Obahmagration" -- kind of like "conflagration," but with Obama in front. My favorite is still "Obama-Hagel," though I think he's getting to be less likely a pick.
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posted by JReid @ 8:29 AM  
The Tim Kaine reader
23/6 cuts through all the media brouhaha over 50-year-old Virginia Guvnah (and Obama pal) Tim Kaine, a would-be Democratic veep -- and gets to the important stuff: the ratings:

A-hole factor (1-10): 3

Vibe: Tractor salesman in a suit

Quick Bio:

  • Born in Minnesota
  • Grew up in Kansas City
  • Went to Honduras as Jesuit missionary
  • Harvard Law School
  • Richmond lawyer specializing in housing discrimination
  • Elected as member of Richmond city council
  • Elected as mayor of Richmond
  • Elected as lieutenant governor
  • Elected as governor of Virginia
  • Nope, he's not Mark Warner
  • Nope, not John Warner either
  • Gave Democratic response to Bush's 2006 State of the Union address
  • Early Obama supporter
  • Odd looking
  • His people say he's "in serious talks" to be Obama's VP


RGI (Regular Guyness Index): 7

  • From Minnesota: -2
  • Flattop haircut: +4
  • Penis owner: +2
  • Catholic: +1
  • Dad owned iron-working shop: +4
  • Harvard Law School graduate: -5
  • Three kids attend public school: +3
  • Their names are Nat, Woody and Annella: -2
  • Wife's father was former Republican governor of Virginia : -1
  • Has a "faith-based opposition to abortion": +2
  • Decided to go with "Tim" instead of "Timothy": +1
Oh, and he's a Pisces.


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posted by JReid @ 7:54 AM  
Monday, July 21, 2008
It will be Romney
If Prince of Darkness Robert Novak is correct, and the McCain veep announcement comes this week, to try and steal some press attention from Barack Obama, I vote that it will be Mitt Romney. Sure, there's no wow factor, but Romney has three things that John McCain can't live without:
  1. He's younger than a fossil (unlike McCain) and has black hair.
  2. His dad was popular in Michigan (which McCain won't win, but he can make Obama spend money there.)
  3. He's RICH and can tap the campaign into some of that good old Mormon money.

Okay four...

He's Mormon, and there are lots of Mormons in Western states like COLORADO. McCain is going to need a motivated religious group behind him this year, and it ain't gonna be the evangelicals. The Mormons are the next best thing.

BTW, on the Obama side, I'm guessing the veep will either be a safe pick, in which case it will be Joe Biden, or a completely blockbuster choice, in which case it will be Chuck Hagel or perhaps even Gen. Anthony Zinni. DU weighs the pros (the commenters throw in the cons...) The full pro-con treatment of a number of Obama picks can be found on the Kos, here.

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posted by JReid @ 5:52 PM  
Tuesday, July 01, 2008
GOP insiders off the record: McCain's campaign sucks
The Politico puts it a little more delicately.

McCain game plan worries insiders

A clip:
One frequent criticism surrounds the widely held perception that the campaign has failed to define or convey a consistent narrative against Obama — something that many Republicans insist should have begun right after Obama captured the nomination.

“What’s the political strategy when you allow your opponent, who has just had a grueling four months, time to catch their breath, regroup, fundraise and start to define himself?” asked a Republican strategist who helped lead a past presidential campaign. “It’s politics 101.”

Several consultants from past GOP campaigns were even more frustrated by what they viewed as a reluctance to attack — textbook strategy for an underdog.

One GOP consultant said that if McCain wanted to define Obama as “too inexperienced, too liberal and too risky” then “why wouldn’t your message every day have something to do with these three problems?”

Other insiders expressed frustration that there is a lack of consistency in defining McCain as well, pointing to the recent launch of an ad touting his challenge to the president’s position on global warming — at the same time that McCain traveled to Texas to advocate lifting the federal moratorium on offshore oil drilling.

“It’s hard to see a thematic message,” said another GOP strategist who has worked on past presidential races. Several Republicans said it remains unclear whether McCain will run on experience or attempt to redefine Obama’s message of change.

Despite all the detractors, I continue to believe that John McCain was the best gambit Republicans had this year. Romney was too phony, Giuliani's a wife-swapping psycho, Huckabee was the most likeable, but the unhinged right hates him for raising taxes in Arkansas and caring about the poor; and Tancredo and the other also-rans were nuts. The most compelling Republican in the race, Ron Paul, had no shot at the nomination, because he just makes too much sense when it comes to Iraq, and the Arab/Muslim-hating hoardes of right wing lunatics don't tend to abide apostasy on the issue of anti-Muslim jihad. In the end, Republican voters made the most pragmatic choice they could -- picking a candidate they assumed would be the same pretty solid guy from 2000.

I mean, who would have thought McCain would throw away his entire persona to become an incoherent Bushbot? I sure didn't.

On to the veepstakes!

At this point, I think McCain has no choice but to pick Mitt Romney as his running-mate. He can't afford -- literally -- to spend $10 million explaining to Americans outside of Minnesota who Tim Pawlenty is. And he's gonna need Romney's Mormon money, and his strengths in Michigan and out west. Romney is minimally acceptable to evangelicals, and can at least talk about faith better than Mac himself. And the nutroots love him, having bought into his phoney-baloney "conservative" act. Besides, with all that dark hair and those 83 look-alike sons, Romney can inject an air of robotic youthfulness to the moribund McCain campaign. He'll be like the human version of the new Straight Talk Air Express.
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posted by JReid @ 11:03 PM  
Monday, June 23, 2008
In case you missed it: the not ready for prime time player
While you were out getting drenched covering the anti-mayors convention protesters ... Joy Reid ... Florida Politics was reminding me why I didn't like Charlie Crist during the gubernatorial campaign, especially during the debates. In short: he's an empty sun-tan:

After all those years of receiving a pass from Florida's compliant newspaper company employees, Charlie wilts before a less than difficult crowd.

"The first reviews are in on Charlie Crist's performance as a high-profile stump speaker on the Republican circuit. It ain't pretty, and it's why the Veep-O-Meter swings backward this week."

The speech by John McCain's potential running mate to Orange County, Calif., Republicans last weekend really helped his party. "By showing unequivocally he would be a complete disaster for the GOP — the worst running mate since Dan Quayle," Orange County Register columnist Frank Mickadeit wrote in a column headlined "We know who McCain shouldn't pick."

"Mr. Crist looks great: … silver hair, warm smile, great tan, perfectly tailored suit of clothes, decent teeth. It's when he uses his facial musculature to try and form cogent sound that he falls apart."
"The columnist said that in just nine minutes, Crist wrongly declared that Ronald Reagan hailed from Orange County and drew audible groans when he saluted Arnold Schwarzenegger — a moderate hardly loved in that bastion of conservatism."
"I would say he was stunned and distracted for minutes, as he absorbed the lack of popularity in this room for the governor," one Republican activist, Jon Fleischman, wrote on a California political Web site.

Crist's support for McCain's new proposal to allow drilling off Florida, may endear him to McCain, but it's not helping Crist's national image. The political Web site the Hotline even suggested it may have sunk Crist's veep prospects if Florida voters recoil: If "taking one for the team" compromises your home-state standing, doesn't that make you less helpful to the party?
"California speech a step backward for Crist".

Imagine Charlie in a "debate" with, say ... Hillary Clinton, Jim Webb, Bill Richardson, Tom Daschle, Sam Nunn, Ed Rendell or any of the others in the Obama Veepstakes. I'd pay for one of them tickets

Me too! Did I mention that Miss Charlie also won't be on the ticket because he's gay? And how would John McCain explain THAT to Dr. Dobson?


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posted by JReid @ 4:38 PM  
Tuesday, June 17, 2008
I heart Hagel: veepstakes edition
I've been saying it for months, and frankly, I can't say it enough: Barack Obama should choose Chuck Hagel to be his running-mate.

Hagel has the tough guy, military credentials to cancel John McCain's advantage on foreign policy and national security (without talking as much or being as gaffe-ready as the otherwise wonderful Joe Biden,) he holds numerous combat decorations from his service in Vietnam, sits on key committees including foreign affairs and is a former Veterans Affairs deputy administrator (who resigned during the Reagan administration over threatened cuts to vets' benefits and disputes over veterans' exposure to Agent Orange); he backs up Obama's get out of Iraq with honor, no more torture, back to the Constitution stances, he's a "regular guy" who can walk Obama into those diners Chris Matthews is so obsessed with, and most importantly, he's a Republican who changed his mind on the war, handing Obama the double whammy of true bipartisanship (reaching across the aisle to find your running mate? Priceless...) and symmetry on the issue of Iraq. He's better than a general, because he has Beltway experience, but he's not your typical Washingtonian. He's got no known scandals, no drama, and damned if he isn't qualified to be president -- the most important criterion for picking a running mate.

What's not to like? (Well ... we'll get to that in a minute...)

For now, Salon, take it away:

The lifelong conservative -- who nearly ran for the GOP nomination himself before deciding, instead, to retire from the Senate -- is getting some buzz among Democratic activists and Beltway pundits as a possible running mate for Barack Obama. (Once again, a reminder that this is shaping up to be an unusual election.) Hagel gets touted as a moderate Republican who's wise on foreign affairs and ready to reach across the aisle to help the country get back on track, as well as help win independent voters for the ticket.

Hagel's wife, Lilibet, gave Obama $500 in February, and Hagel himself has pointedly declined to endorse McCain. Last month on CNN, Hagel ducked a question about the vice-presidency, passing up the chance to give a robust, Shermanesque "no." (His office declined to comment for this story.)

Selecting a prominent Republican war critic -- and one given to pronouncements like, "I sometimes question whether I'm in the same party I started off in" -- might be the way for Obama to make good on his post-partisan rhetoric. But is the Democratic Party -- let alone the country -- ready for a so-called national unity ticket? ...

... Hagel would also bring some strong credentials, says former Sen. Bob Kerrey, a Democrat and fellow Nebraskan, who ran for president himself in 1992. "He's fun to hang out with, he's got terrific knowledge of foreign policy and national security, and he enjoys the work," Kerrey said.

On foreign policy, Hagel could help Obama disarm McCain's charge that Obama is inexperienced, and Hagel's Army service in Vietnam might counterbalance McCain's playing up his own Navy career. Domestically, Hagel has a record of aiming for the same kinds of fiscal restraint and limited-government conservatism that McCain touts -- he opposes earmarks, thought No Child Left Behind was a mistake, and opposed a recent farm bill, despite his home state's agricultural interests, because it cost too much. He joined with Democrats and other Republicans, including both Obama and McCain, to sponsor immigration reform legislation, and he mostly stays away from fights over wedge issues when they make their way to the Senate floor.

Okay, now for the stuff that for some Democrats, is "not to like ..."

For Obama to get Hagel past the Denver convention crowd, which will include Hillary Clinton supporters who still want her on the ticket (not gonna happen, ladies...) the base would have to get over the fact that Hagel is what he's advertised to be: a conservative Republican -- the old fashioned kind, who believes in small government and avoiding foreign entanglements. More from the Salon piece:

"Chuck is, I would say, a movement conservative," [Former Senator Bob] Kerrey, who considers Hagel a friend, said. The American Conservative Union says Hagel has voted the way it wants on nearly 85 percent of what it considers key votes over his career. Getting him nominated at a convention that may already be somewhat fractious after the long primary battle would be tough. "It's hard to imagine that (delegates) are going to vote on someone at the Democratic Convention who's anti-choice, anti-civil rights for gays and anti-gun control," Kerrey said. "It's not impossible, but it's bumping right up on the edge."

Ever since Bill Clinton picked another moderate Southern baby boomer to run with him 16 years ago, the old conventional wisdom about vice presidents -- that you need a candidate to give you regional and political balance -- has been crumbling. That doesn't mean all the rules have gone out the window, though. "If they go the real unconventional route of choosing someone of the other party or someone who's independent, they better make damn sure that their base will see the need of selecting that person," Brazile said. "They better make sure that person is someone who can rise above the divisions."

In other words, unless a Republican running mate would virtually guarantee Obama a win in November, it's probably not worth the risk of angering Democrats to pick one. Chances are, this is one part of the old politics that Obama won't be willing to mess with.

Perhaps not, and then there are ultra-lefties, including radio talk host Thom Hartmann, who believe Hagel has some sort of conspiratorial relationship with voting machine manufacturer ES&S Systems... Hartmann wrote in 2003:

The respected Washington, DC publication The Hill has confirmed that former conservative radio talk-show host and now Republican U.S. Senator Chuck Hagel was the head of, and continues to own part interest in, the company that owns the company that installed, programmed, and largely ran the voting machines that were used by most of the citizens of Nebraska.

Back when Hagel first ran there for the U.S. Senate in 1996, his company's computer-controlled voting machines showed he'd won stunning upsets in both the primaries and the general election. The Washington Post (1/13/1997) said Hagel's "Senate victory against an incumbent Democratic governor was the major Republican upset in the November election." According to Bev Harris of BlackBoxVoting.org, Hagel won virtually every demographic group, including many largely Black communities that had never before voted Republican. Hagel was the first Republican in 24 years to win a Senate seat in Nebraska.

Six years later Hagel ran again, this time against Democrat Charlie Matulka in 2002, and won in a landslide. As his hagel.senate.gov website says, Hagel "was re-elected to his second term in the United States Senate on November 5, 2002 with 83% of the vote. That represents the biggest political victory in the history of Nebraska."

What Hagel's website fails to disclose is that about 80 percent of those votes were counted by computer-controlled voting machines put in place by the company affiliated with Hagel. Built by that company. Programmed by that company.

"This is a big story, bigger than Watergate ever was," said Hagel's Democratic opponent in the 2002 Senate race, Charlie Matulka. "They say Hagel shocked the world, but he didn't shock me."

Is Matulka the sore loser the Hagel campaign paints him as, or is he democracy's proverbial canary in the mineshaft?

I'm not buying the conspiracy theory, but then again, I heart Hagel.

If Barack were to pick him, it would be a supreme test of his political skill and ability to persuade his party to follow his lead, even in an unusual direction. I still hold out hope that it will happen, and that Democrats will understand that sometimes, you can't think outside of the box -- as my mentor James T says, you have to be wise enough to figure out that there is no box.

Updated: the new veepstakes Top Five:
  1. Chuck Hagel (for all the reasons stated above.)
  2. Wesley Clark (of all the generals, he's the only one who has gone through a presidential primary, and so he'd be more prepared to take the stage than other military picks.
  3. Joe Biden (provides the foreign policy credentials and knows his way around Washington. But watch for verbal gaffe eruptions...)
  4. Ted Strickland (Ohio, Ohio, Ohio! But the downside is the $10 million you'd have to spend raising his name recognition in non-Ohio states...)
  5. Kathleen Sebelius (I doubt a woman will be picked this go-round, because of the Hillary followers' unique sensitivities, but if Obama does go femme, she's the top pick.)
Who's been downgraded?
  1. Jim Webb -- Too many "sexism" problems in his past to fly with Democratic women
  2. John Edwards - Doesn't pass the fictional, yet media-friendly, "commander in chief test" even though his wife would be a hit with women voters
  3. Bill Richardson -- The racists out there are going bat-crap crazy over a black man at the top of the ticket. Add an Hispanic and you might see mass head explosions, though he sure seems to be trying to land the job.
  4. Mark Warner -- He seems genuinely not to want the job. Plus, we need him in the Senate.
  5. Evan Bayh -- Together, they'd be Obamabayh. Not cute. Plus, he's got this major charisma problem...
  6. Ed Rendell -- If Barack can't win Pennsylvania without him, he's in the kind of trouble we're not seeing in the polls.
Outside chances?

Roy Romer. Colorado will be crucial -- and winnable this time -- he has no national profile, but he could be built into a winner, if he's interested in returning to politics.

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posted by JReid @ 10:48 PM  
The Florida flip
Charlie Crist with John McCain. ... Oh, what a man wouldn't do to be v.p. ...

First, John McCain reverses his decades-old stance on off-shore oil drilling, to cater to the Fox News set. Now, it's Sideshow Mel's turn, just days after his rebuke of Dick Cheney and George Will's Chinese-Cuban oil derrick fantasy. Meet the new Mel (courtesy of the Miami Herald's Naked Politics blog):
Florida Sen. Mel Martinez, once "joined at the hip" with Sen. Bill Nelson when it comes to opposing offshore oil drilling, told reporters at the Capitol today he's inclined to support John McCain's bid to lift the decades-old coastline drilling ban.

He said that if McCain's plan embraces the 2006 compromise that he and Nelson struck -- giving Florida a 125-mile buffer -- "the rest of it is something I can probably live with...I think it's about providing enough resources where the states want to do it and permit it."

Of course, Melly Mel isn't alone in showing off his version of the Florida flip: Miss Charlie, you're up!
TALLAHASSEE — Gov. Charlie Crist dropped his long-standing support for the federal government's moratorium on offshore drilling Tuesday and endorsed Sen. John McCain's proposal to let states decide for themselves.

The governor said he reversed his position because of rising fuel prices and states rights.

"I mean, let's face it, the price of gas has gone through the roof, and Florida families are suffering," Crist said. "And my heart bleeds for them."
Yes, I can see it bleeding through your perfectly pressed shirt ... I wonder why Crist the Rock has suddenly become Crist the oil man...
Crist is considered a possible running mate for McCain, the likely Republican presidential nominee.
Ah, it all starts making sense. Well, I still have my memories...
Just last year Crist had urged federal lawmakers to reject legislation, which they did, that would have allowed drilling as close as 45 miles off Florida's beaches. He also supported the moratorium during his 2006 campaign for governor.

Most Florida politicians historically have opposed drilling because they fear it would harm the state's beaches that are so vital to its tourism economy.

They also have been worried drilling would interfere with weapons testing and training in and over the Gulf of Mexico by Florida military bases.

And all of this has the Florida Democratic Party breaking out your father's old scold book:
Democrats also argued additional offshore drilling would not affect prices set on the world market.

"It would only increase oil companies' record-breaking profits," said Florida Democratic Party spokesman Mark Bubriski.

He compared Crist's reversal to his recent proposal for a temporary reduction of Florida gasoline taxes after McCain made a similar proposal at the national level. Sen. Barack Obama, the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee, criticized it as a campaign gimmick.

"If John McCain jumps off a cliff, will Charlie Crist jump, too?" Bubriski said.

Silly Mark, of COURSE he would ... now ... McCain's just a Senator. But if Mac were to get into the White House, Miss Charlie not only would refrain from jumping after McCain, he'd immediately start planning the state funeral down to the last flamingo-shaped napkin and get his decorator to the West Wing faster than you can say "George Takei!"

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posted by JReid @ 10:07 PM  
Wednesday, June 11, 2008
The General makes the case
Back in 2004 when I was supporting him for president, we Clarkies used to call Wesley Clark simply, "The General." Well, these days, the General is doing what he does best: making it plain on John McCain:
"I know he's trying to get traction by seeking to play to what he thinks is his strong suit of national security," Clark said of McCain while speaking from his office in Little Rock, Arkansas. "The truth is that, in national security terms, he's largely untested and untried. He's never been responsible for policy formulation. He's never had leadership in a crisis, or in anything larger than his own element on an aircraft carrier or [in managing] his own congressional staff. It's not clear that this is going to be the strong suit that he thinks it is."

Resume aside, though, Clark also took issue with the Arizona Republican's instincts on national security. "McCain's weakness is that he's always been for the use of force, force and more force. In my experience, the only time to use force is as a last resort. ... When he talks about throwing Russia out of the G8 and makes ditties about bombing Iran, he betrays a disrespect for the office of the presidency."

Bump that man up on the short-list.

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posted by JReid @ 11:16 AM  
Friday, June 06, 2008
Five reasons why Hillary Clinton will not be v.p.

There are a lot of things to admire about Hillary Clinton: her tenacity, her killer debate prep, her advocacy for children's healthcare, and many of her pantsuits. But Hillary Clinton is not going to be Barack Obama's vice presidential choice, no matter how badly her supporters may want her to be. Why? Let me count the ways...

1. The primary

Hillary Clinton made such a vehement case against Barack Obama's qualifications to be president, she essentially exempted herself from qualification from the prime directive of the vice presidential candidate: believing that the person you're running with is capable of running the country. The ads featuring the newly minted v.p. attacking her would-be boss would be too juicy to resist for the GOP. Yes, we all know that GHWB called Ronald Reagan's economic policies "voodoo economics" and still wound up on the ticket, but the truth is, Reagan was headed to a landslide, and nobody cared what George Bush Sr. had to say. Barack has a potentially much tighter race on his hands.

2. The oxygen

The Clintons have a way of sucking it up, big time, and as a very senior Republican operative here in South Florida told me today, the best chance John McCain has to win the White House is for Barack Obama to choose Hillary as his running mate. With Hillary on the ticket (and her husband in the proverbial background,) the fall campaign would be A-B-C: all about the Clintons -- Bill's finances, Bill's possible dalliances, Bill lurking around the West Wing, Hillary's 2016 ambitions, and the Clintons' possible machinations behind the president's back. We'd be arguing about them all general election season, and Barack would be left scratching his head, wondering where his narrative went.

3. The weakness

If Barack Obama chooses Hillary, he would have a hell of a time convincing most people, including the press sharks, that he didn't do it under duress, or because he had to, or because he was otherwise certain to lose the "hard working white Pennsylvania vote." By picking her, he looks weak, and she looks like Dirty Harry. Not a good look for a would-be commander in chief.

4. The theme-breaker

In sharp contrast to Barack Obama's theme of breaking with the politics of the past, and forging a new, youthful, energetic American narrative, Hillary Clinton and her husband are a two-person 1990s time capsule. Their entire purpose is to bring back the good old days between 1992 and 1999. By attaching their narrative to his, Barack Obama would forfeit his future-focused campaign for one that inevitably looks backward -- a restoration rather than a refutation of the past. John McCain's people would love that, because then, both campaigns would be fought on a backward-looking narrative, and McCain's meme of choice is the Reagan era. In a battle of the 1980s versus the 1990s, which do you think would win? Maybe we should ask Al Gore.

5. The bottom line

Even if you believe that Hillary could deliver Arkansas, which I doubt, the other states she supposedly locks down for Barack are ones that he damned well better be able to lock down on his own: Pennsylvania, New York, Ohio... and I see no evidence that she hand-delivers states like West Virginia and Indiana, where recalcitrant white voters recoil from anything but a Republican who promises to further impoverish them. With or without Hillary, Obama probably can't win those states. Florida is the only state where Hillary makes a strong case that she helps make him more competitive against John McCain, and the costs of doing business with her out-weigh the potential benefit of having her deliver the sunshine state. At the end of the day, if Hillary is a team player, she will help deliver Florida anyway, without being on the ticket. Besides, the key to winning Florida will be maximizing the black vote in the two most populous counties in the state: Miami-Dade and Broward. That's how Bill Clinton pulled it off (along with attracting a larger than normal share of Cuban-Americans, which Barack is doing on his own with his policy of allowing more family visitation to Cuba.) Clearly, after the kind of primary the Clintons ran, they can't do a damned thing to help Barack with black turnout, in or out of Florida.

With apologies to Hillary fans, what Barack Obama needs is a white guy with a drawl of some kind, preferably with military or executive governing experience, or extreme popularity in a key swing state. He can't pick Jim Webb because of his past, harsh words for women, but someone Webb-like would work for him. I still like Chuck Hagel the best, because he reinforces Barack's message about reaching across the aisle. But there's also Wes Clark (even though he's much, much shorter than Barack), or Montana's Schweitzer, or Ohio's Strickland or even Joe Biden. If he goes the woman route, he could roll with Kansas' Kathleen Sebelius, or skip the woman as ticket-mate and choose someone with a really popular wife (John Edwards comes to mind, though he has apparently taken himself out of the running...)

But Hillary Clinton it will not, and should not, be.


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posted by JReid @ 2:38 PM  
John Edwards: no Abercrombie and Fitch ticket
Pretty always wins, right? Well, maybe not. John Edwards is saying he doesn't want to be Barack Obama's vp. (He'd rather be Barack Obama's attorney general, anyway...)

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posted by JReid @ 2:35 PM  
Thursday, June 05, 2008
Ted Strickland endorses Obama
The Ohio governor, and probably veep contender, also made the switch from HRC to BHO today. Strickland's office released this statement:
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
June 5, 2008

Governor Ted Strickland issued the following statement this afternoon:

"Today, I announce my wholehearted and enthusiastic support for Barack Obama for President of the United States.

Earlier today I talked with Sen. Hillary Clinton. I thanked her for her friendship and the strong effort she put forth in this historic campaign. I pledged to work with her to unify the party and to make sure that Barack Obama wins the presidency.

Ohioans have suffered as a result of the failed policies of the Bush Administration, including job loss as a result of rising fuel prices. Ohioans desperately want real, meaningful change. And I believe Barack Obama will bring that change."


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posted by JReid @ 4:32 PM  
Great blogfind (and Obama veep option)
I'm probably very slow on the uptake but a pollster friend of mine just hipped me to a great blog called fivethirtyeight.com. It's chock full of poll data, analysis and all the other stuff we political junkies love. The specific link was to this post, which puts forward a pretty darned good argument for Montana Gov. Brian Schweitzer as an Obama veep possibility. (I still like Chuck Hagel, though I know a lot of people who are pushing for the "Abercrombie and Fitch ticket" (Obama, Edwards)...)

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posted by JReid @ 3:54 PM  
Wednesday, June 04, 2008
How to kill a veep run
Barack Obama has assembled his vice presidential search team, which includes former Clinton deputy A.G. Eric Holder, veteran veep vetter Jim Johnson, and newfound pal Caroline Kennedy (whom I wouldn't surprised will confer at least some time with her uncle Ted.) I said it before, and say it again, Hillary won't make the final cut. Now, the WSJ has another reason, and it shows that Team Obama does indeed know how to play this game:
WASHINGTON -- Sen. Hillary Clinton, who refused to concede after Sen. Barack Obama claimed the Democratic presidential nomination Tuesday, will do so Saturday, two top advisers said. Close supporters suggested she would like to be his running mate, on a unity ticket.

But close advisers to Sen. Obama signaled an Obama-Clinton ticket was highly unlikely. People in both camps cited what several called "a deal-breaker" -- Bill Clinton may balk at releasing records of his business dealings and big donors to his presidential library.
So the answer to Clintonistas is, "OK, you want on the ticket? Show me your husband's financials."

Well played.


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posted by JReid @ 9:38 PM  
Tuesday, June 03, 2008
The politics of 'openness'
Hillary Clinton has a lot of power this week, to shape the psychology of her most fervent supporters -- the ones who aren't core Democrats enough to go with whomever is the nominee, the older, white women who are bitter, angry, passionate and enraged that she has been "denied" (never mind the mistakes made by her own campaign, the 11 straight losses after Super Tuesday, and those damned caucus states) the nomination for president.) What she does over the next several days will matter, not so much for Barack Obama, who I believe will win a majority of the women's vote regardless of the Clinton dead-enders, but to those women themselves, who have put everything -- and I mean everything -- into her campaign. For Obama, she can make this easy, or she can make it difficult. She can bow out gracefully, or she and her supporters can go out ugly, but make no mistkae. Tonight, like it or not, it ends.

That said, for the first time, Hillary Clinton (not her husband) has said that she is "open" to becoming Barack Obama's vice president:
WASHINGTON - Hillary Clinton told colleagues Tuesday she would be consider joining Barack Obama as his running mate.

On a conference call with other New York lawmakers, Clinton, a New York senator, said she was willing to become Obama's vice presidential nominee if it would help Democrats win the White House, according to a participant who spoke on condition of anonymity because this person was not authorized to speak for Clinton.

Advisers for Clinton are also indicating that the former first lady is withholding a formal departure from the race partly to use her remaining leverage to press for a spot on the ticket. ...

Well that depends on what the meaning of "press" is.

I was on the radio this afternoon with my mentor, James T (Hot 105 FM Miami) and when asked whether she would be on the ticket, I gave an emphatic "no." (Hey, it was a one-word answer request.) I continue to take the Nancy Pelosi view, that a joint ticket will not happen, and from a messaging point of view, makes no sense for Barack. But if Camp Clinton decides to play hardball, and attempts to railroad her onto the ticket in August, that, my friends, would be ugly, ugly, ugly.

And I don't think it would work. What it would do is tarnish the Clinton name within the Democratic party, maybe forever. James has made the very good point that if Obama is a strong man who knows who he is, he should be able to handle a strong vice president (and her husband). I agree. But I think Obama has to be allowed to make a fresh start -- to write his own chapter in Democratic history, without dragging her and her husband's vast library behind him. He needs to be, to quote Al Gore, his "own man," free from the Clinton legacy. Already, Washington is shaking off that legacy; as the "Hardball" crew just pointed out, when Howard Dean beat Clinton guy Donnie Fowler for DNC chair in 2005 and when Nancy Pelosi and not a Clinton loyalist became Speaker of the House, the race was on the close the door behind the Clinton family.

I think that door, for now, needs to remain closed. Bill Clinton needs to get about the work of rebuilding his legacy, particularly his tremendous work on global philanthropy. Hillary needs to find an identity apart from the White House. And America needs to take a big gulp of fresh air, free from the Bushes (mercifully) and -- and I say this with sadness, not with relish, because I always really liked and respected Bill -- free from the Clintons.


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posted by JReid @ 5:12 PM  
Thursday, May 22, 2008
The beauty contest
The media is buzzing over John McCain's plans to meet with Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindall, Florida Gov. Charlie Crist and former Mass. Gov. Mitt "The Hair" Romney at his ranch ... oh God, he has one, too...?

But here's why the meetings probably don't matter, unless they're actually a camouflage for just meeting with Mitt.

Jindal: too new, and too obvious a play for the minority visual vs. Obama. Can't you just see the 527 fliers from some right wing racist organization asking if Jindal is the REAL father of John McCain's adopted, brown daughter?

Crist: too liberal, in the eyes of many Republicans, McCain doesn't really need him to carry Florida, and let's keep it real, the gay rumors may have blown over in the sunshine state, but that dog won't hunt in other red states, where a handy flier touting the single guv's possibly alternative lifestyle will freak out the Christian right (especially the closeted ones.)

Romney, of course, is another matter. His father was god-like in Michigan, so the Romney name could help McCain poach that state. And Romney, because of his business and Olympic background, brings McCain the economic conversance that he himself clearly lacks. Downside: Romney comes across as a pompaded phony, and that's not exactly helpful to a campaign whose "straight talk express" is already running on the rails, pushed overboard by lobbyists, flip-flops and Mac's total incoherence on the Middle East.

So maybe the other two meetings are about solidifying those two semi-swing states (Louisiana and Florida) and a McCain pitch for Jindal and Crist to open up their fundraising files. Other than that, when it comes to running mates, don't hold your breath, at least not for those two.

Meanwhile, Hot Air asks, "what, no Huck?" and reports that of course, The Entourage (Traitor Joe and Miss Lindsey) will be there, too ... in case Mac needs a back rub. The missus is way to rich for that kind of thing.

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posted by JReid @ 8:26 AM  
Wednesday, May 14, 2008
Obama veepstakes, round 2
My revised list of Obama veep picks, in order of favorityness:
  1. Chuck Hagel - still the one, as far as I'm concerned. He brings instant bipartisanship, and cross-over appeal. Could he also bring Nebraska? It depends on how pro- or anti-war that state is.
  2. Jim Webb - I still put him at number two, because he has the national security street cred, military macho chips, and potential to deliver his state (VA) that Obama could really use.
  3. Ted Strickland - As I said before: Ohio, Ohio, Ohio.
  4. John Edwards - If the visuals on his Obama endorsement are compelling enough, there could be a drumbeat to draft the former veep candidate once again. He couldn't deliver his home state (South Carolina) or the state he represented in Congress (North Carolina), for John Kerry in 2004, but this isn't 2004, and Barack Obama isn't John Kerry. His big win in NC, and the incredible turnout, particularly among African-Americans, is making that state look a lot more "swing," and beyond that state, Edwards could give Barack overall strength with white men. No small thing: his endorsement today puts him back on the list, big time.
  5. Bob Casey - Better than Ed Rendell in some ways, because he's younger, and he's actually been an Obama pal. His family is legendary in PA, so he could help keep the state in the D column, if the Obama team is worried about it.

    Honorable mention:

  6. Roy Romer - something of a longshot, but Colorado's former three-term governor has a lot to bring to the table. He's a Clinton loyalist, who recently declared her candidacy dead, nonetheless. He was born in Kansas, like Barack's mom, and he ran the school system in L.A., which will make him familiar to Cali fundraisers. If he could put Colorado in the Dem camp, he's of great value.  
Off the list: Janet Napolitano. No sense gambling on trying to grab Arizona.

Possible also-ran: Claire McCaskill. She has been loyal to Barack, and is the potential female running mate candidate with the most oomph. That said, I think Barack needs a man. Preferably a melanin-challenged one, if you know what I mean.

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posted by JReid @ 6:33 PM  
Monday, May 12, 2008
My Obama top five veep picks
Picking up from the previous post, here's how I'd rank my top five picks for Obama v.p., in order:
  1. Chuck Hagel - This is my very own "dream ticket." And Barack shouldn't ask him to switch parties. The better to show his bi-partisanship, and scoop up some disaffected Republicans voters.
  2. Jim Webb - Strong military cred, great surrogate, and he's a former Reagan guy.
  3. Joe Biden - Best one liners in politics, and he's got foreign policy experience that makes John McCain look like a preschooler. They'd have to assign a mouth minder, though...
  4. Ted Strickland - Ohio, Ohio, Ohio...
  5. Janet Napolitano - She could help with women, and she'd force McCain to spend big in his home state, during a race where he's almost sure to be at a cash disadvantage. AZ is also situated out West, so she could help in Colorado and New Mexico, too.
Honorable mention: Mark Warner - he was immensely popular in VA, and was often talked about as a possible presidential candidate in his own right. Squeaky clean, and conservative on things like guns and gay marriage. Could help with the Hilbots.

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posted by JReid @ 5:26 PM  
The Fiorina float?
John McCain has spent today angering the GOP base by getting all hopped up about global warming (psst! You know why he likes the issue? Because it's scaaaary... John McCain loves scaaaary...) Never mind that he missed every relevant vote on environmental issues this year and his legislative record on the environment reads more like a job application to Texaco. But McCain's other triangulation could be the one yet to come, when he chooses his vice presidential running mate.

Lately, I've been seeing a lot of a certain fired computer executive acting as a McCain surrogate on the TV, and it makes me wonder, could McCain float Carly Fiorina, the 54-year-old former Hewlett Packard president, as his running mate? It would certainly be e clever gambit to snatch the Hillbots away, before they get the chance to get used to Barack Obama. And Fiorina, in addition to being a southerner (from Texas and North Carolina) who lets him play the white woman card, could shore up McCain's shoddy credentials on the economy, providing him with the requisite "person who has run a business," without forcing him to pretend he can stand Mitt Romney. Plus, Fiorina gives him a woman that could help his lack of love from Wall Street, while providing him, and his decrepit Old White Guy party with diversity that isn't tied to the Bush administration's legion of failures (sorry, Condi.)

On the downside, Fiorina was ultimately a flop at HP, presiding over the failed merger with Compaq and riding the share price down to the point where her board cried uncle ... er ... auntie. And she did say once, that "There is no job that is America's God-given right anymore. We have to compete for jobs as a nation," which won't look good in a campaign ad (she said it in 2004, about a year before she found out that there was no CEO job at HP that was her God-given right...) And she was an aggressive proponent of outsourcing American jobs, which she cleverly labeled "rightsourcing." She did live in Califnornia when she was running HP, but that doesn't mean the people there like her much. (See 7,000 jobs, above.)

It's a thought, and one Team Obama should take seriously.

Meanwhile, the HuffPo has a good laundry list of possible Obama picks. I'd bump Chuck Hagel up on the list. If I could wave a magic wand and pick someone for Barack, Hagel would be the man. And the Huff left two big names of the list, former Virginia Gov. Mark Warner, and current Ohio guv Ted Strickland.

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posted by JReid @ 4:45 PM  
ReidBlog: The Obama Interview
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"I am for enhanced interrogation. I don't believe waterboarding is torture... I'll do it. I'll do it for charity." -- Sean Hannity
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